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New York Times, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Author:
Peter A. Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.565313
Peter A. Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QWXZ} This is puzzle # 95 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes:
There are some things about this puzzle that I really like. I like that the sets of circles are symmetrically placed. I like ... read more

There are some things about this puzzle that I really like.

  • I like that the sets of circles are symmetrically placed.
  • I like that the themed entries (are there three or five? — more about that in a minute) all run through a set of circles, with DOGLEGS running through two.
  • I like the atlas-y feeling middle of the grid, with LIBYA, RIYADH, OSLO, MALI, EL PASO, and ERIN.
  • I like that I no longer play golf, and now have a hobby (crossword puzzle construction) that actually pays me a little bit of money.
  • I like that I was able to fit the names of my three children – ELIE, ESME, and ESAI — in the grid. (By the way, the baby's on its way – ELKE if it's a girl, ESAU if it's a boy?)
  • I like that, in the spite of the presence of ELIE, ESME, and ESAI, the fill was not too ugly, given that diagonal entries often put a real strain on a grid.

Now, about those themed entries. DOGLEGS and GOLF COURSE are certainly legit. What about LADIES TEES? They're definitely on golf courses, but they don't really have anything to do with doglegs. I also have the symmetrically placed ON A PAR and CARDED in the grid. Themed entries? If so, they're very, very weak. "On a par" has nothing to do with golf, other than sharing the word "par". "Carded" could be clued in a number of ways. I chose to clue it (and Will & Joel chose to keep it clued) in a golf sense.

I hope this gets you ready for the Masters, which starts in a little more than a week. I don't care much for golf on TV, but that course is so gorgeous, I often tune in for just a peek.

Jeff Chen notes:
DOGLEGS today, four types of dogs 'bent' into the shape of golf course doglegs (when a fairway takes a bend). Pretty, those sets of ... read more

DOGLEGS today, four types of dogs "bent" into the shape of golf course doglegs (when a fairway takes a bend). Pretty, those sets of circles in the grid. Something graceful about them, and they sort of evoke the image of a big golf course within the grid. (Sort of.)

Single and double DOGLEGS

GOLF COURSE is more or less essential to include as a revealer — just DOGLEGS might leave too many non-golfing solvers scratching their heads. Tough to find something equally perfect for the symmetrical spot. LADIES TEES are definitely real, where we horrifyingly poor golfers pretend we're are allowed to tee off. To Pete's point, it felt pretty shaky as a themer.

I might have preferred something like DOGLEG LEFT to match GOLF COURSE. Of course, that would mean all the dogs would need to bend left, making it very difficult to achieve symmetry in the sets of circles. But as pretty as that looks (SETTER symmetrically matching COLLIE), this is a rare case where I might have voted for asymmetry. Golf courses are never (rarely?) laid out to have rotational symmetry, so more random placements of the DOGLEGS might have been more evocative.

That could have also helped with the difficulty involved with placing diagonal entries in a crossword. Diagonal entries are notorious for necessitating crossword glue; such a tough task to fill around diagonal entries. Peter already does pretty well though, with really just an I GOT around one of them and an INGLE (I'm still undecided on that one), using his black squares really wisely to separate the sets of circles.

Solvers may have missed the bonus entries, ON A PAR and CARDED, placed in symmetrical spots. They don't directly tie into the DOGLEGS theme, but they do add a little more golf-y feel to the puzzle.

Loved the clue for HAT. "Overhead expense" is common in business-speak, so to repurpose it for a hat purchase is clever.

Some pretty grid imagery today, along with solid execution.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0329 ( 24,248 )
Across
1
Volleyball actions between bumps and spikes : SETS
5
Name on an orange-and-white truck : UHAUL
10
"Hey, buddy!" : PSST
14
"What ___" (1996 Sublime hit) : IGOT
15
Some chip dip : SALSA
16
Ceremony : RITE
17
What red markers may indicate on 59-Acrosses : LADIESTEES
19
Altar exchange : IDOS
20
Even (with) : ONAPAR
21
Cat in a record store : STEVENS
23
To date : YET
24
Musician Reed or Rawls : LOU
26
Tripoli's land : LIBYA
27
Musical name after Tori or before Lee : AMOS
29
Ancestor of the harmonica : PANPIPE
31
Supporter : FAN
32
Top-shelf : AONE
33
1960s Egyptian president : NASSER
37
"___ My Children" : ALL
38
Some links holes ... with a hint to the circled letters : DOGLEGS
40
___-Magnon : CRO
41
Capital of Saudi Arabia : RIYADH
43
Capital of Norway : OSLO
44
Big export of Saudi Arabia and Norway : OIL
45
Lithe : LISSOME
47
When summer officially starts : JUNE
48
Like a disciplinarian's talk : STERN
51
Luau instrument, informally : UKE
52
Symbol of power, with "the" : MAN
53
Like some lights : HALOGEN
55
Scored, as on a 59-Across : CARDED
58
"Out of Africa" author Dinesen : ISAK
59
18 holes, often : GOLFCOURSE
62
Suffix with disk : ETTE
63
Indian ___ : OCEAN
64
Pipeline problem : LEAK
65
Animal that's sometimes frozen in the headlights : DEER
66
Like a chimney sweep : SOOTY
67
Nobel winner Wiesel : ELIE
Down
1
Missile ___ : SILO
2
Op-ed columnist Timothy : EGAN
3
"Act quickly! This offer will end very soon!" : TODAYONLY
4
Supporting stalks : STIPES
5
Country in a classic Beatles title : USSR
6
Overhead expense? : HAT
7
Pub order : ALE
8
Exhausts : USESUP
9
Z's position : LAST
10
Outhouses : PRIVIES
11
Obsolescent designation in the music business : SIDEB
12
Expressionless : STONY
13
Girl's name that's a benefit in reverse? : TESSA
18
Sup : EAT
22
Texas home of the Sun Bowl : ELPASO
24
Early filmmaker Fritz : LANG
25
It just took this before "I fell so hard in love with you," in a 1960s hit : ONELOOK
27
Way off : AFAR
28
Burkina Faso neighbor : MALI
29
Some stuffed bears : POOHS
30
Hearth : INGLE
32
Doing sums : ADDING
34
Rascal : SCOUNDREL
35
"___ go bragh!" : ERIN
36
Something cast : ROLE
39
Salinger title girl : ESME
42
Morning TV weatherman : ALROKER
46
Gas brand with an arrow in its logo : SUNOCO
47
"Always on Time" rapper : JARULE
48
Recoiled (from) : SHIED
49
Flavor : TASTE
50
Thrill : ELATE
52
World leader with a distinctive jacket : MAO
54
Divas have big ones : EGOS
55
Sch. overlooking Harlem : CCNY
56
Morales of "La Bamba" : ESAI
57
Hockey feint : DEKE
60
Many an August birth : LEO
61
What beef marbling is : FAT

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?